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Wyoming helps Guard neighbor to north with mission 'makeover'

A 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft of Wyoming Air National Guard taxis in front of a Montana ANG building at the 120th Fighter Wing, Great Falls, Mont., Feb. 8, 2014. The WY ANG visited the MT ANG to train their personnel in new career fields as the unit transitions from F-16 fighters to C-130 cargo missions. Because the two units experience similar weather Wyoming personnel were able to give advice on what it is like to fly missions in windy, cold conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

A 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft of Wyoming Air National Guard taxis in front of a Montana ANG building at the 120th Fighter Wing, Great Falls, Mont., Feb. 8, 2014. The WY ANG visited the MT ANG to train their personnel in new career fields as the unit transitions from F-16 fighters to C-130 cargo missions. Because the two units experience similar weather Wyoming personnel were able to give advice on what it is like to fly missions in windy, cold conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

A 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft of Wyoming Air National Guard taxis on a runway at the 120th Fighter Wing, Montana ANG, Great Falls, Mont., Feb. 8, 2014. The WY ANG visited the MT ANG to train their personnel in new career fields as the unit transitions from F-16 fighters to C-130 cargo missions. Because the two units experience similar weather Wyoming personnel were able to give advice on what it is like to fly missions in windy, cold conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

A 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft of Wyoming Air National Guard taxis on a runway at the 120th Fighter Wing, Montana ANG, Great Falls, Mont., Feb. 8, 2014. The WY ANG visited the MT ANG to train their personnel in new career fields as the unit transitions from F-16 fighters to C-130 cargo missions. Because the two units experience similar weather Wyoming personnel were able to give advice on what it is like to fly missions in windy, cold conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

Master Sgt. Randy Patrick, an aerial port specialist of the 153rd Airlift Wing, instructs 120th Fighter Wing members how to properly place pallets on a C-130 cargo plane Feb. 8, 2014. Patrick and other WY ANG members flew to the unit in Great Falls, Mont., to help train their personnel as the unit transitions from a fighters to cargo aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

Master Sgt. Randy Patrick, an aerial port specialist of the 153rd Airlift Wing, instructs 120th Fighter Wing members how to properly place pallets on a C-130 cargo plane Feb. 8, 2014. Patrick and other WY ANG members flew to the unit in Great Falls, Mont., to help train their personnel as the unit transitions from a fighters to cargo aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

Montana and Wyoming Air National Guard members download a vehicle from a 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 cargo plane Feb. 8, 2014. WY ANG aircrew and aerial port members flew to the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont., to teach MT ANG personnel how to perform activities on a C-130 as they transition from F-16 fighters to C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

Montana and Wyoming Air National Guard members download a vehicle from a 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 cargo plane Feb. 8, 2014. WY ANG aircrew and aerial port members flew to the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont., to teach MT ANG personnel how to perform activities on a C-130 as they transition from F-16 fighters to C-130s. (U.S. Air Force photo extracted from video by Senior Airman Nik Asmussen)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- It is not uncommon for members of the Wyoming Air National Guard to tell others the Guard is like a second family. And like family, they take care of one another, provide mentorship up and down the ranks and lend a helping hand when needed.

In February, members of the WY ANG took the family concept across the border to assist the Montana ANG with its ongoing transition from F-16 fighters to C-130 cargo and transport missions. This involved a full weekend of training and mentorship in multiple career fields both inside and outside the aircraft.

"We are getting them familiar with the planes, doing the specific jobs," said Master Sgt. Randy Patrick, an aerial port specialist from the 153rd Airlift Wing in Wyoming who spent time with Montana Guard members.

"They are all super smart," he said. "They all come from different career fields. We are going to teach them to do a completely different job."

With change this big, it was comforting to have a little help, especially from a near-by neighbor with decades of experience and perhaps other advantages - similar geography and climate.

The Wyoming unit is ideal for this role, said Senior Master Sgt. Teresa Parks, the new Aerial Port Terminal Control supervisor who is in process of cross-training from being a supply technician to taking on her new role in the ATOC.

"They have the same type of flying and they are in the mountains as well," she said. "They have a lot of heavy winds," adding that because Wyoming is used to having to make calls on whether or not to do air drop missions in inclement weather, they can better teach the Montana folks what to expect with their similar weather.

But until Montana officially begins flying its own C-130s, weather will not be its biggest hurdle. For now, getting its members up to speed is important for the transition to be successful. Wyoming aerial port members were able to give hands-on training in parachute rigging, load placement in aircraft, the all-important paperwork, setting up training records and equipment, plus more.

Perhaps the biggest benefit was exposure to the aircraft and types of work involved with it while many of the Montana members await training for their new careers.

"We have people who are not going to go to school till September," Parker said.

With help from the Wyoming, Montana Airmen are able to have some amount of experience before they attend technical training, she said.

"It's been a huge advantage having them," said Parker. "In the two days that the Wyoming guys have been here I've learned a ton," adding that the most important aspects of their jobs are essentially what Wyoming members were teaching them.

Patrick hopes the two units will continue to work with each other and network, he said. The flight between them is fairly short, but they are always just a phone call away. While their time together was fruitful there will no doubt be more for Montana to learn as it gains aircraft, and more for Wyoming to teach.

Patrick said that while he hopes Wyoming will always be able to help Montana out whenever they call, he would hope Montana could also help Wyoming out when they too are in need.

"Everybody needs help," he said. "Let's get things done and work together."